Affected vs. effected object

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A relatively old semantic-role distinction is that between affected objects, i.e. patients which are affected by the verbal action, and effected objects, i.e. participants which come into being as a result of the verbal action.

  • “One example of a ‘covert’ grammatical distinction is the one to which traditional grammarians have attached the labels ‘affectum’ and ‘effectum’, in German ‘affiziertes Objekt’ and ‘effiziertes Objekt’. The distinction, which is reportedly made overt in some languages, can be seen in Sentences 1 and 2. 1. John ruined the table. 2. John built the table. Note that in one case the object is understood as existing antecedently to John's activities, while in the other case its existence resulted from John's activities." (Fillmore 1968:4)


  • affected objects: open the door, paint the house, destroy a house
  • effected objects: paint a painting, build a house, draw a line


  • affectum object vs. effectum object (Fillmore 1968:4)


  • Charles J. Fillmore 1968. The case for case. In: Bach, Emmon & Harms, R.T. (eds.) Universals in linguistic theory. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1-88.

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